100 years old · 1916 · before and after · Dallas · family · fireplace · Highland Park · historic home · home · home restoration · living room · neighborhood · old house · photography · playroom · Prairie Style · preservation · renovation · restoration · sisters · Texas · transom · treasures · Uncategorized · windows · wine

Bringing life back into our 100 year old windows, a slow process.


I love our 100 year old home, and especially the effervescently luminous windows, but they have not necessarily felt beloved over the past several years. They are all tightly painted shut with layer upon layer of variously colored paints, some were fully concealed behind drywall and bookshelves, and others were shattered. I adore these resilient windows, and we are in the process of uncovering and refinishing each window on the front, both sides, and part of the back of the house. Unfortunately, a few of the windows on the backside of the house were the ones who saw the most wear and least love. However, these windows will not be forever lost to a dump yard, we will reuse the glass panes to create our interior transom windows and our kitchen arched window.

Below: Some examples of our gorgeous 100 year old windows.




Here we are opening the playroom windows for the first time.


Here is a window that was previously covered behind drywall and shutters, released from hiding and opened for the first time in at least 50 years.


Playroom windows breathing again after being concealed behind drywall and shutters. Pink, how appropriate for the girly playroom to be.



Close ups of the weights.



Close ups of the rope pulleys.



Living room room window uncovered behind built “over” bookshelves and shutters on the outside. Below: view from inside out onto the front covered patio.


Below: View from outside and back into the living room.


Soft green patina, one foot of previously enclosed space (I certainly thought we would find some treasures here, but alas, just added square footage), pulleys and weights and original unpainted hardware.



So the living room window was the first to undergo full restoration. The results are indeed breathtaking!

That is the original wood that looks as if it just came from the mill.


Here is the larger view of the window next to the contemporary fireplace, which still needs to be removed. Here you can also see the foot deep enclosed area needed to cover the original window and fireplace.


Here is a view of the window from the outside into the living room.


Close up of the original hardware, muted and yet gleaming all at the same time.


One hundred year old rope pulley, fresh and strong.


Weights in place and ready for counterbalanced movement.


Double hung window opening from the top down in full effect. Smoothest and most assured balance I could have imagined. I thought it would be jerky and unsteady, but I stand corrected.  IMG_1505IMG_1449

All of the window panes are not presently present. When removing the many paint layers the essential putty, which binds the glass to the wooden framework, also comes off, and the panes are thus removed from the framework and then replaced in the original framework with a new putty mixture. All of the panes have not been replaced at this point, but hopefully I will have an updated picture with all panes in place by the end of the week.

So here we come to the lesson of the night, what are the parts that make up a 100 year old window and how do they work together and why am I so insistent upon keeping these living and working relics of the past that most everyone tried to convince me against keeping?

Emotional lesson:

I am not a supremely stubborn person, but once I set my mind to something, then that is the only answer. I love them. We are keeping them. These windows are inherently part of this home, part of the life and history of the house, the neighborhood, and the lives and families that shimmered and glittered behind these panes of glass. Each pane of glass diffuses a unique refraction of light each and everyday and I love being part of this history.

Engineering lesson:

Having double hung windows basically means that you have two independently installed and working windows on separate tracks, but when closed, they seal together perfectly as if one window. Upon your will, you can open the top or bottom sash, or both at the same time, an ideal configuration for optimal airflow. 

Counterweights and pulleys balance the movement of the double hung windows between the iron weights on one side and the thick woven cords wrapped around the pulleys mortised into the tops of the window jams on the opposite side. It is a delicately perfect system that will work smoothly and perfectly if the correct proportions are accounted for between the window sashes, pulley cord strength, and counterbalanced weights.

So that is that for the windows tonight. I love old windows and I am still learning about them as we restore our own windows. In the meantime, I am having a difficult time writing due to my kitten Sofia (“The First” of course after the Disney show) lounging atop my computer.


Love and hugs,







4 thoughts on “Bringing life back into our 100 year old windows, a slow process.

  1. Good for you for insisting on the original windows! I learned about restoring old windows and the myths that window replacement companies perpetrate by reading the thecraftsmanblog.com. So far I have only restored one of my home’s double pane windows, but I plan to chip away at the rest one by one. The hardest part about doing it when you are living in the home is having a hole in the wall while you work. My home is in South Carolina and was built in 1904. Our windows are 2 over 2, double hung. Good luck on your restoration, and I will enjoy following along!


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